9 Day Tour Visiting Sri Lanka’s Proud Heritage Sites
Bear Witness to a Heritage of Two and a Half Millennia
Sri Lanka holds the record for the country with the longest continuous written history, with the story of the nation being recorded since more than twenty five millennia ago. The advent of Buddhism, the influences of several foreign races, and a long line of more than 200 kings and queens have left their mark on the country’s landscape, literally and figuratively. Although a multitude of foreign invasions, famines, wars, and other events have rendered most of the past unknowable, evidence still remains of a strong civilisation that endured all negativity to show off the skill, the artistry, and the care that went into its formation. Sri Lanka is thought to be among a handful of ancient civilisations not to have used slavery, which was abhorred by the ancients owing to their Buddhist upbringing. Evidence remains that labour was either voluntary or was paid. It is this proud history that Sri Lankans want to tell the world about.
Sri Lanka is blessed not just with an ancient civilisation, as its heritage also includes a series of national parks that have been preserved for future generations to witness. The country is a biodiversity hotspot of global significance, as it is said that it contains 13 times as many species as there should be in an island of its size. Sri Lankans past and present have had a respect for nature and have cared for its sustainability, as evidenced, for instance, by its traditional farming methods.
This 9 day tour takes you across some of the most important heritage sites in Sri Lanka. Although 9 days is too short a time to cover everything the country has to offer, Rewards Holidays makes sure you travel to the best locations and enjoy experiences that are second to none. You will be provided the services of licenced experienced travel guides and will be transported by experienced chauffeurs in comfortable air-conditioned vehicles.
- Visit the Elephant Orphanage at Pinnawala.
- Visit and climb the Sigiriya Rock Fortress.
- Take a tour of the village of Sigiriya.
- Visit the Rock Cave Temple in Dambulla.
- Visit an authentic Sri Lankan spice garden.
- Visit the Temple of the Tooth Relic and watch a cultural show in the Hill Capital Kandy.
- Visit the picturesque Royal Botanical Gardens.
- Visit some ancient temples located just 15km from Kandy city – Gadaladeniya , Lankathilaka and Embakke, known collectively as the Western Shrines
- Travel through the hill country adorned by waterfalls, and gaze at one of the most spectacularly scenic sights in Sri Lanka.
- Visit a Tea Plantation and factory.
- Take a 4WD Jeep safari at Yala National park
- Spend some time on a lovely beach.
- Day 01: Pickup at airport and transfer to Sigiriya or Dambulla via Pinnawala, where you will visit the Elephant Orphanage. Overnight stay in Sigiriya or Dambulla.
- Day 02: Visit the Ancient city of Polonnaruwa and Climb the Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Overnight stay in Sigiriya or Dambulla.
- Day 03: Visit the Rock Cave Temple in Dambulla and proceed to Kandy via Matale, where you will visit a spice garden. Do a city tour of Kandy including a visit to the sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic. Watch a Kandyan cultural show in the evening. You will stay overnight in Kandy.
- Day 04: Visit the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya and visit the three Western Shrines not far from Kandy. You will stay overnight in Kandy.
- Day 05: Proceed to Ella in the morning. Visit a tea plantation and factory en route. You will stay overnight in Ella.
- Day 06: Explore Ella or spend your time at leisure at the hotel. You will stay overnight in Ella.
- Day 07: Proceed to Yala for a luxury camping and safari experience at Yala National Park. You will stay overnight at a campsite in Yala.
- Day 08: Take two game drives in Yala National Park, famous for its leopards.You will stay overnight at a campsite in Yala.
- Day 09: Proceed to the south coast or Colombo as you end the tour.
Included in the Tour Price
- Air-conditioned chauffeur-driven luxury vehicle(s) and guides during the entirety of the tour.
- Accommodation in a shared double room at hotels according to your budget on a bed & breakfast basis. All meals will be provided while camping in Yala.
- Entrance fees to all sites mentioned in the itinerary
Excluded from the Tour Price
- Expenses of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone charges, and beverages
- Photo and video permits at sightseeing locations
- All meals other than those specified above
- Air Tickets
- Any expenses for extra activities
- Travel Insurance
Nine Days Experiencing a Proud Heritage
- Day 01 Airport to Sigiriya or Dambulla via Pinnawala
- Day 02 Sigiriya or Dambulla to Polonnaruwa and Back
- Day 03 Sigiriya or Dambulla to Kandy via Matale
- Day 04 Kandy to Peradeniya, the Western Shrines, and Back
- Day 05 Kandy to Ella
- Day 06 Ella
- Day 07 Ella to Yala
- Day 08 Yala
- Day 09 Yala to Colombo or other location
You will be greeted at the Bandaranaike International Airport by one of our representatives, and will be transferred to your hotel in Sigiriya or Dambulla, depending on your preferences or availability.
The first site you will visit on this tour is the Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawala. The first of its kind in the world, the orphanage has a herd of elephants that have either been orphaned or injured in the wild. . This is thought to be the largest herd of elephants in captivity, and is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the country. Although initially wild, the elephants at the orphanage have grown accustomed to humans and are relatively tame. The attentive staff members take care of these pachyderms round the clock, and you will get a chance to see elephants being fed (bottle-fed in the case of baby elephants) and bathed in the river below.
You will stay overnight in a luxurious boutique hotel in either Sigiriya or Dambulla.
After breakfast at your hotel, you will travel to Polonnaruwa. Its ancient sections considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city of Polonnaruwa was the capital of ancient Sri Lanka from the 11th to the 13th centuries, during which time it became arguably the wealthiest country in the world. It is said that Sri Lanka was then known as the Granary of the East, and that more than 2000 varieties of rice were cultivated within its shores. The ancient monuments and remains of the sacred city bear witness to what would have been an impressive city that thrived under several benevolent kings who supported and encouraged the arts as well as agriculture during two centuries of prosperity. Although this civilisation eventually fell to invaders, evidence of its glory still remains. Visit the many attractions the sacred city has to offer, and be prepared to be dazzled by the statues and other monuments.
After the tour of Polonnaruwa, you will come back to Sigiriya, where you will climb the eponymous Sigiriya Rock Fortress in the late afternoon. Yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sigiriya, loosely meaning Lion Rock or Lion’s Mouth, is a 200 metre monolith out of which a fortress was created by the 5th century king Kashyapa, who feared for his life, and hence needed a secure location for his seat. His story is stuff of legend and reads like mythology. He always feared that his father, the king Dhathusena, a benevolent and popular king, would disown him for his behaviour and attitude, and proceeded to torture and execute his father by trapping him inside a wall. The prince named himself king, and proceeded to move his seat to Sigiriya. Not happy with just living in a cave, he got the services of the best engineering and artistic minds to create a masterpiece that has stood the test of time.
The Sigiriya Rock Fortress is known in Sri Lanka as the eighth wonder of the ancient world, and with good reason. At the top of the rock, there is a pond which does not seem to dry out even during periods of drought, and modern scientists and engineers have no proper idea as to the source of the water there. More impressive are the fountains that, to this day, work especially during times of heavy rain. That these systems still run without the use of electricity or mechanical power has baffled the best modern minds. One of Sigiriya’s main attractions is a series of frescoes of Damsels holding flowers. Although only 22 of these iconic paintings remain, archaeologists claim that the entire rock face was adorned with them, making it the largest single painting the world has ever seen.
You will stay overnight in a luxurious boutique hotel in either Sigiriya or Dambulla.
After breakfast at your hotel, embark on a day in which you visit two other UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The first of these is the Rock Cave Temple of Dambulla, also known as the Golden Temple. This site is located inside a series of caves atop a 500-foot (150 m) rock. The Golden Temple traces its history back more than 2,100 years, and has an impressive collection of Buddhist artworks including sculptures and paintings from different eras. The view of the area is also spectacular, as you will be able to see quite a long distance on clear days.
You will proceed to Kandy via Matale, where you will take a quick tour of an authentic Sri Lankan spice garden. Sri Lankans love their spices, and the Sri Lankan experience is incomplete without tasting some spicy food. See how different spices are grown, and the farming methods used, and take some fresh spices with you to take back home.
You will come to Sri Lanka’s Hill Capital Kandy, the last seat of Sri Lanka’s kings before British Colonial Rule. The Sacred City of Kandy is the second UNESCO World Heritage Site you will visit on this day (after the Golden Temple in the morning). The most significant location in Kandy is the Temple of the Tooth Relic, so called because it contains the most sacred artefact for Buddhist all over the world – the remains of a tooth of the Buddha that is said to have been retrieved from his funeral pyre. The tooth relic draws a large number of pilgrims and tourists to Kandy every day, and is the main object of adoration and worship used in the colourful annual procession known as the Kandy Esala Perahera. The Temple grounds contain several museums and shrines that show the significance and history of the tooth relic.
In the evening, you will be able to witness a cultural show that would include drums, dances, and other items that show off the cultural diversity of Sri Lanka.
You will stay overnight in a luxurious budget hotel in Kandy.
After breakfast, you will visit the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya, just outside of Kandy. . These vast gardens were once the pleasure park for Sri Lankan kings and are now the most important botanical garden in the country. As many as 4,000 species of flora, including rare and endemic plants, are grown in the park. Watch out for the Palm-lined avenues, the double coconut trees, the giant bamboo, and the Giant Java Fig tree that provides shade to a vast area. The botanical gardens are also home to several research facilities.
After the Royal Botanical Gardens, you will visit three ancient temples found in close proximity to each other about 15 km west of Kandy. Collectively known as the three Western Shrines, these three temples are Gadaladeniya, Embakke, and Lankathilaka, and were all created in the 14th Century during the Gampola Kingdom. Each of these temples are quite picturesque, and give one a sense of serenity and contains Buddhist art from several centuries. The Embakke Temple is especially well known for its ornate wood carvings that have survived the centuries in pristine condition.
After exploring the three Western Shrines, you will come back to Kandy, where you will stay overnight at your boutique hotel.
After breakfast, you will be taken to Ella. En route, you will get a chance to see a lush tea plantation and factory and get to see the world’s best tea being produced. Your experience will include observing how the tea leaves are diligently plucked and collected at the plantation and processed in the factory until it reaches its final form. You will also get to have a taste of several types of tea that are produced at the factory.
The road to Ella from Kandy is one of the most scenic drives in the country. You will see many waterfalls, mountain ranges, valleys below, forested areas, cliffs, and even the wildlife that thrive in these conditions. Despite all this, there are only a few uninhabited areas along this route, so you will get a chance to see how people go about their daily lives in these conditions.
There is one location in Ella, named the Ella Gap that simply takes your breath away. Here, there is a dizzying drop of about 3000 ft. that makes visible the eastern plains between two mountain ranges. This is a definite stop in anyone’s journey to the area, and every picture will be postcard-worthy.
You will stay overnight in a luxurious boutique hotel in Ella
On this day, you have the option of exploring the area around Ella, where you are sure to find some exciting photo opportunities, or you may decide to spend some time in the hotel just being pampered or taking part in a recreational activity.
Ella, so named as it is home to a famous waterfall (Ella means waterfall in the local Sinhalese Language), is generally cooler than the surrounding area, making it an ideal getaway from the warm climate elsewhere. The area is known for its biodiversity, and cloud forests and tea plantations alike make it a colourful area to explore. There is a legend that the mythical king and local Ravana kept the Princess Seetha in a cave behind the waterfall that is now named Ravana Ella after bringing her back from India. The Ravana Ella is a popular bathing spot for visitors, although it is not recommended due to dangerous currents in the waterway below. The waterfall itself is very close to the main road, and is a spectacular sight to behold.
You will stay overnight in your hotel in Ella.
After breakfast at Ella, you will be transported south east to Yala, where you will stay in a campsite near the Yala National park.
The Yala National Park is the most visited national park in Sri Lanka. It is also the second largest in the island. The main attraction in Yala are the apex predator of Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan Leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya), a subspecies of the Asiatic leopard. It is generally larger than most other types of leopard, and shows several behavioural differences from other leopard species. Other animals on view in the Yala National Park will include Sri Lankan Elephants, Sri Lankan Sloth Bears, Jackals, Axis Deer, Sambur Deer, Toque Macaques, Grey Langurs, Black-naped Hares, Crocodiles, and over 200 varieties of birds, of which several are endemic to Sri Lanka.
Your experience on this day in the National Park will include a safari game drive in a specially outfitted 4WD Jeep with an experience trekker / driver.
You will stay overnight at the campsite in Yala. Meals will be provided at the campsite.
On the penultimate day of this incredible heritage tour, you will be entitled to two safari experiences: one in the early morning and one in the late afternoon. Dawn and dusk are the times in which most animals are active in the national park. These times provide the best opportunities to see them in the wild. Morning and evening game drives have their differences too, as there are some animals that come out only during either dusk or dawn. Because the National Park is so vast, you may be able to take trips into its many different parts to see and experience a lot of the park during your stay at Yala.
During the day, catch up with the naturalists and staff at the campsite and they might be willing to share stories about wildlife that they have seen or experienced.
You will stay overnight at the campsite in Yala, where meals will be provided.
After breakfast, you will leave Yala to Colombo or to a destination of your choosing along the southern coast, where you will be able to find a nice beach to relax on after a tour filled with excitement. Your tour will end at your drop-off point.
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